Performance of Candidates from Different Academic Backgrounds

“It doesn’t matter who you were or what you’ve done in the past. The only thing that matters is who you are right now.” Shelly Crane

Every year lakhs of people take a shot at the UPSC civil services exam hoping to make it out as IAS or IPS officers. In the end, only a few hundreds achieve their IAS dreams. Traditionally, the civil services have been regarded as a bastion of candidates with a humanities background. But off late, a lot of candidates with medical and engineering degrees have made headlines as toppers. Is there a shift in the profile of candidates successfully emerging as IAS officers? Perhaps, yes. And what is interesting is that a lot of the science/engineering graduates have cleared the UPSC exam by taking humanities subjects as their optionals. While some stick to their backgrounds, others plunge into studying subjects that are totally new to them. This article analyses the profile and performance of candidates who take the civil services with respect to their academic disciplines.

This data would reveal that success in the IAS exams does not depend on your educational qualification or your academic background. All it takes is UPSC-oriented preparation with a single-minded devotion and discipline. The following data has been taken from 2010 UPSC mains exam.

Educational Qualification

No. of candidates appeared

No. of candidates recommended

Success rate (%)

Bachelor degrees

6965

600

8.6

a)      Humanities

2135

112

5.2

b)      Science

978

48

4.9

c)       Engineering

3040

345

11.3

d)      Medical science

812

95

11.7

Higher degrees

4900

321

6.6

a)      Humanities

3496

230

6.6

b)      Science

1025

54

5.3

c)       Engineering

269

25

9.3

d)      Medical science

62

6

12.5

e)      M. Phil & PhD.

48

6

12.5

Total

11865

921

7.8

 

Key points to note from the table:

  • The percentage of humanities candidates who had taken the civil services mains was below 50%. (5631 candidates out of a total of 11865 which is 47.5%.)
  • 59% of the total candidates who had taken the IAS mains exam were graduates and their success rate (8.6%) was better than the candidates with higher degrees (6.6%).
  • Among the bachelor degree holders, 31% belonged to humanities whereas among higher degree holders a good 71% were from humanities background.
  • The success rate for humanities is greater for higher degrees than with graduate degrees.
  • The success rates for candidates with medical or engineering degrees are really noteworthy. Engineering candidates (bachelor + PG) show a success rate of 40%. Doctors show a success rate of 10% which are higher than the average.
  • The number of engineers and doctors with higher degrees taking the mains is a low number although their success rate is good.
  • Success rate for M. Phil and PhD candidates taking the IAS mains is quite high.
  • Science graduates show a lower success rate than the average at about 4.9%. Even with higher degrees, science candidates show a success rate of 5.3%. So, humanities show a better success rate than pure science graduates. However, medical and engineering students show a much higher success rate than humanities background candidates as shown by the second table given below.

From the above data, the success rates of candidates from different streams are:

Humanities: 6.07%

Science: 5.09%

Engineering: 11.18%

Medical science: 11.57%

 

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